BACK in April 1988 the father of the new Envoy to the North of Ireland was on the streets of West Belfast, touring Divis flats with the late Fr Matt Wallace.

Famously Joe Kennedy, who was the son of assassinated Senator Bobby Kennedy, had a confrontation with a British soldier. In front of television cameras the soldier grabbed the then 35-year-old Kennedy by the arm with the Congressman telling him to, “take your hands off me.”

The soldier angrily told Kennedy: “Why don’t you get back to your own country?”with Kennedy retorting: “Why don’t you get back to yours?”

During his time in Divis Mr Kennedy met with Sally McErlearn whose son Thomas had been murdered during the Milltown Massacre the previous month. He also signed autographs for local children.

When asked by reporters if he would meet with those involved in violence he said that although his family had suffered through violent acts in the past, he wanted to have a “little time to understand the situation”.